Coconut Raspberry bowl

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Travelling means I am away from my kitchen so I haven’t been able to cook much at all, however before I left I made this very special cocobowl and I kept it for a rainy day.

Coconuts are an excellent for many reasons, everything about them is usable, you can eat the flesh and it’s filling and delicious, you can drink the water, full of electrolytes, use the oil to cook or in your skin or hair for hydration of nutrition and when there is nothing else to eat, you can use the shells to makes bowls or bikini tops (lol).

As a final giveaway, the coconut provides us with coconut flour which is absolutely fabulous to substitute regular flour with way more fibre than the regular wheat one and very low in carbs.

I (place big heart here) coconuts.

Peace & Love!

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Best Pea & Spinach Soup

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I promise you it is the best you will ever have. Well maybe you are very stubborn and will not be willing to admit it, but it will be at least top 3! What is special about this soup, is that is based on a traditional Finnish soup that I tried many years ago.

I had never been a massive fan of peas… I guess like most children, those mushy, green little balls were mainly something I had to patiently remove from paellas, rices, other foods that I liked…mainly an annoyance this is. Luckily for me, I developed a brain later on in life, and I became more adventurous with food, this paired with an excellent parental education that engraved in my brain the fact that “If you go to someone else’s house, you eat what you are given and you say how good it was” led me to trying for the first time the winning combination that makes this soup special. Mustard!

I know now you are still reading out of curiosity, so please know that Ham and Pea soup has been a traditional northern European speciality for centuries and traditionally, incorporates this seasoning into it, giving it a tart, vinagre like punch that is just so delicious! Since I don’t eat meat, I have developed a vegan alternative to this traditional soup, also incorporating spinach to make the traditional soup a bit lighter and removed the ham. If you are a meat eater, don’t hesitate to add a bit of ham in the cooking process and blending it together and you will get a smoky, delicious flavour.

Peas are also a very respectable source of many things. At only 74 calories per each 100 gr. of product, you get 5 to 6 gr. of fibre, 6 gr. of protein and very good levels of iron, calcium, vitamin C and magnesium along with multiple vitamins. It is also low in sugars and the carbohydrate content is of slow absorption making them perfect for weight loss diets, low carb diets, and diabetic patients (regardless of their medication of course).

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What else can I say… it is also very easy to make so totally worth trying and including this soup into your every day diets, without a doubt!

Ingredients (serves 5)

300 gr. frozen or fresh peas

300 gr. frozen spinach

1 Onion finely chopped

1 l. of vegetable stock (if doing the vegan option, if going for the traditional one, just add a 200gr. clean piece of smoked ham or a ham bone)

Dijon Mustard

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

How to…

In a very small amount of olive oil, cook the onion finely chopped until transparent. Then add the frozen peas, the spinach and add the vegetable stock (or the ham and water), salt and pepper and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Remove one cup of the peas and set aside and blend the rest of the mixture correcting the level of water, it could be too dry or too liquid and therefore your soup would be too liquid or too chunky. We want the soup to be a little chunky though, kind of thick, but of course this is a personal choice! Once the soup is roughly blended is ready to be served.

In a bowl, serve the amount of soup you wish, add a teaspoon of dijon mustard on top and some drops as decoration. Garnish with some of the peas you had set aside and if you want, with a bit of mint and enjoy. img_9888

Nutella Slim Nice Cream

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I love ice cream. It is my guilty pleasure, it is the one thing I cannot put down, i just cannot. My husband has to take it from my claw like hands and and look at my how-do-dare face when this happens and I have to fight against it, so simply give in every now and then, because let’s be honest, and life without ice cream, is just not worth living, in my opinion.

Recently I came across this vegan idea for making what has been called nice cream. I guess the nice part comes from the fact that is totally cruelty free, no animal products, nothing chemical… just full of goodness and truly delicious! I promise you it is. I couldn’t believe it myself but it is true.

So this is a very good alternative to the traditional gelato that is made with cream and sugar and you can make it in 3 minutes. I am compiling a series of flavours that work. So far I have mastered Peanut Butter and Nutella, but I have the feeling that the coffee caramel will be amazing too.

Sun is shining upon us today so why not give this a go?? Do you have a ripe banana? You have most of the work done then 😉

Ingredients (for one big portion or two smaller ones)

1 large ripe banana

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 small handful of hazelnuts

A pinch of sweetener

 

How to?

Peel and chop the banana in edible pieces and freeze for about an hour. Then put the frozen banana in a food processor with the hazelnuts and the cocoa powder and the sweetener and blend until you have a smooth deep chocolate colour paste. Serve with your choice of toppings. I tried no topping and some coconut flakes and sliced almonds, but with more time the sky is the limit.

This recipe is sugar free, unprocessed and raw and if you make sure you cocoa is gluten free, it is also gluten free, vegan very low in fat and fabulous.

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How to Cheat… and not get caught!

d5a3498cfc9e53130b5f815ef44713b7_JetWe all want to eat chocolate biscuits and pizza, and ice cream and double cheese burgers and French fries, if possible with mayo. Crisps, cake, muffins, fish & chips, whatever tickles you… generally is something that will not be of any help when you are trying to maintain a ripped physique.

Toning and fats are generally opposite to each other, and that is dramatic because fat is precisely the one ingredient that gives your food palatability… which means good taste in simple English.

As you know if you have seen the pictures or check the recipes in this blog, eating well and clean doesn’t mean not eating delicious, but it definitely doesn’t mean eating what one wants at every opportunity.

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So anyway, I want to have my cake, and eat it too! I want a toned, slim line figure but I want to be able to enjoy the occasional treat like everyone else, because life is meant to be enjoyed!! But in order to do this, there are a couple of do’s and don’ts that we need to keep in mind.

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How to cheat then??

 

  1. Cheat meal is exactly that: a meal. Not a day, not a weekend, not a week, a meal. In a week of good food behaviour, you can take your pick and eat whatever you want in one meal, preferably with more carbohydrates to maximise the benefits, since they are the ones that will make our bodies more efficient in transferring them to the muscles afterwards.
  2. Preferably do it in a day that you are training: a big weight training day or a long run are best, to minimise the fat that could be stored after it
  3. If you are in a keto diet, that is low carb, please do not attempt this. Your body is burning fat as fuel as oppose to glucose because you are having none of it. It takes your body a certain amount of time to get into that state, that depends on the number of times you have gone in and out of keto before and the speed at which your body consumes its glucose reserves which are in the muscles and in the liver… this is generally anything between 24 and 72h. Each time you go out of keto (ie by eating a carbohydrate of certain glycemic charge) your body will happily and very quickly come out of keto state, and guess what?it will be storing up to 120% more glucose that before. What this means is that your body will take then longer to get back into keto… and each time you do this it will take longer, until it has no effect at all. Sorry to break the news to you, but someone had to. Keto, Dukan, Atkins and the sorts of those, are not compatible with cheating.
  4. You cheat once a week while trying to lose weight
  5. You can cheat twice a week once you are in maintenance
  6. You can split your cheating having a 10% of your calories from chocolate/pizza/ice cream.. a day. This is a bit silly because normally is something like ¼ portion of a slice of pizza, so basically, smell the pizza pass by you.

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So this is it, short and sweet.

Enjoy the burger my friends, and remember, cheat wisely!

 

Detoxing for ever

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Hand on belly

 

The word in everybody’s mouth this January, and every single January if we are being honest, because new year resolutions seem to last only as long as this first month, then the reality of a lifetime of built habits come to haunt us and drag us back to the snack section of the supermarket and to hang our gym clothes until the summer pops its head around the corner.

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The problem with these so called “detox” is that they often do more harm than good.¨

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So instead of talking about what is bad about detox diets that will leave you with less muscle and starving for sugar, not to mention in a perfect metabolic condition for a yoyo effect, (if you are interested on this, you can check my previous post about Bulimia and other diets) I will offer you and alternative method of detox that will help you:

  • Cleanse your body after a period of overindulging eating
  • Return to your previous weight or start a weight loss diet without risking your health
  • Fill you up with energy that will not peak and then leave you tired, but a consistent rate through the day
  • Increase your metabolism so you burn more calories even when you are not exercising
  • A more toned physique, that will your body a beautiful shape

 

If any of those appeal to you, continue reading.

This is a starters guide to a healthier life, and I will be digging deeper in the forthcoming weeks on each one of the principles of the method, which is just based on the implementation of some healthy habits in your life, just one by one. Today we will speak about the diet, since this is what will make the biggest impact on your life. You might have heard that “no amount of exercise can outdo a bad diet” this is very true, and for some of us, the percentage might as well be higher, the good part about this, is that if you cannot do exercise or sports during a particular period of your time, you still get to manage your weight just by learning to eat better and clearing some misconceptions.

 

The first rule of the good eater is… To know EXACTLY how much you should be eating. Nutritional recommendations have promoted the idea that most of us women need 2000 calories and day and most man 2500, this for a person that is physically very active might be true, but there are many variables that affect your nutritional needs:

  • Your height
  • Your current weight
  • Your body composition
  • Your level of activity

 

In order to calculate your needs, you can find some very useful online calculators, I like one in the site bodybuilding.com. You can access it here and just fill in the information required:

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutrients_calculator.htm

Which takes me to the second rule: to know exactly WHAT you should be eating. This affects the amount of each food group you should be eating (Protein, Carbohydrate and Fats) and how much of each should you be eating, since the right split of them will do an awful lot of a difference to your body composition.

For example, someone that eats too little protein, will have trouble maintaining their muscle mass, which might make them lose weight but look sick and undernourished and not healthy and toned, which is a lot more appealing. Not eating enough fats can put your health at risk and removing the carbohydrates is not a permanent solution and most likely will just deplete you of water.

The above link will tell you the exact number of grams and calories from each nutritional group that you should be eating every day.

 

Wait!! Don’t get frustrated just yet, learning to count your nutrients is not for beginners, but it is good for you to know it, so you can follow it broadly when composing your meals.

A normal split for people that are trying to lose weight but not in a competitive sport, would be 40% carbs, 35% protein and 25% fats.

How do you then do this??

A simple way of calculating is by filling a small to medium size plate with: 1 portion of protein (this is about 120 grams of chicken, 100 grams of red meat, or a 150- 200 gr of white fish, same as red meat if its blue fish which has a higher amount of fat) this should occupy ¼ to 1/3 of your plate then fill up with vegetables (greens and tomatoes, peppers etc but no starchy vegetables) these should take up ½ your plate.

The rest, should the ¼ of your plate more or less, should be filled with carbs, normally this is a couple of spoonful’s.

 

Simple rules to choose your food:

 

Protein: lean sources are best!! Chicken, turkey, lean pork loin, white fish, lean beef (less than 5% fat) and cottage cheese, 0% quark and 0% Greek yogurt Other proteins that are higher in fats such as lamb, cuts of meat with a lot of fat, or even salmon and eggs are best eaten in moderation (twice a week for eggs and salmon and only occasionally for the others)

 

Carbohydrates: complex or slow burning carbohydrates are always the best choice, this is because their unprocessed nature respects the integrity of their nutrients and have kept all their fibre and vitamins, this makes them keep you fuller for longer and feed you better at the same time that have less impact on your weight loss plans by not spiking your blood sugar levels. This is important because when that happens, your body activates a series of metabolic processes that in the end, make your body more likely to store fat.

 

Good carbs: peas, beetroots, beans (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans…) pumpkins, wholegrain pasta, wild, brown, black rice, 100% wholegrain bread particularly made of ancient cereals like spelt, oat specially oat bran and quinoa.

(most of this also have a significant amount of protein, specially the beans, but they have a lower bio availability than those of animal protein so they have to be consumed with them or cereals to complement them, this is particularly important for some on a vegetarian or vegan diet). Fruits are excellent sources of carbs, but I will comment on them separately.

“Bad” carbs: potatoes (although sweet potato can be used as a good carb), white bread, white rice, pasta, particularly fresh pasta, any refined sugar or sugary product.

Fruits: they are mainly composed of carbohydrate so they need to be eaten in moderation and avoid them after 6 or 7 pm. The best ones amongst them are the ones with higher amounts of fiber.

Best fruits: apple, pear, all berries (blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry, these can even be eaten at night because of their very low sugar content) kiwi fruits, nectarines, peaches and citric fruits.

Higher sugar fruits: mangoes, khakis, bananas, grapes, all dried fruits, fruit juices even if freshly made.

 

It is perfectly fine to eat a couple of pieces a day and this counts as carbohydrate so for example if you have a salad with steak for lunch, you can complement with a couple of mandarins.

 

Fats: always bear in mind that all the fats count, the cooking fats and the ones that belong to the food you are eating. Some foods contain little to none fat (fruits and beans or cereals) and others contain a lot like salmon and avocados. We need ALL types of fat to function correctly but it is true that from the “bad fats” we need so little that we get it in our diet regardless, what we do not get enough of if we don’t make an effort, is the omega 3 monounsaturated fats, that contribute to optimal cardiovascular function. Always prime these as sources of fat in your diet.

Best fats: avocado, blue fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna) chia seeds, olive oil, coconut oil

“Bad” Fats: animal origin fats from milk (butter and whole milk) and fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb. Poultry skin.Bad fats can and must be part of the diet, but it is better to eat only sparingly, specially if you are trying to lose weight.

 

Third rule: when should you be eating?? This is a difficult questions and there are many approaches like fasting etc, some swear that their approach burns off fat but there is no scientific diet that validates one or the other, So I will simply say, do whatever works for you. As long as during the day you are eating enough of the foods that you are supposed to be eating, you are ok. If you are someone that is happy with 2 meals a day, maybe that is fine for you!

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However, for a normal human being, a frequent intake of food (every 2 to 4 hours) of smaller amounts is best because:

  • Makes your digestions easier, the heavier a meal, the longer and more work will take your body to digest and this can lead to the terrible “after eating” effect of needed a nap.
  • Keeps your energy levels
  • Helps with the blood sugar levels
  • Activates the metabolism and burns more calories since the digestive system is also a group of muscles, that burn energy when they move.

 

My recommendation: Have a breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, light dinner, after dinner snack.

Of course you could also have a mid morning snack and no after dinner, or both or eliminate one if you are not hungry… for me these food intakes happen at 9:15 am, 12:30 am, 4 pm, 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm and my bedtime is 10:30 pm. I wake up at 6:30 every morning to work out which I find easier fasted and helps me boost the fat burning effect of the exercise.

So this is the task for this week:

Eliminate unhealthy snacks, processed drinks, carbonated drinks, juices, and sugars and try to have a set of 5 smaller meals a day. Each one of them has to have a small amount of carbs, a big portion of vegetables and a portion of lean protein.

No alcohol of course and try to get 8 hours of sleep.

This will detox you way more effectively than any juice fasting out there.

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In order to help you build your own menu, I have here the example for one day, all the recipes are available in the blog.

 

Breakfast: Oat bran porridge with light soy milk and a kiwi fruit

Lunch: Hake fillet, pan fried with green beans and boiled lentils.

Afternoon snack: Protein yogurt and a small apple

Dinner: tuna steak oven roast with green salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar

After dinner snack: 1 square of 70% cocoa chocolate with 5 almonds and a cup of tea

 

Breakfast: Yogurt with almond butter, ½ a banana and sprinkled sliced almonds

Lunch: Chicken paella with black rice, onions and peppers and cauliflower

Afternoon snack: a small pear and 10 almonds or 20 peanuts or 1 tbs no added sugar peanut butter

Dinner: zucchini soup and prawn skewer with lemon

After dinner snack: 1 square 70% cocoa chocolate

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Next week I will take another step into our healthy lifestyle, stay tuned! And remember if you have questions about your particular case, please get in touch!

190 Calorie Super Smoothie

FullSizeRender (2)I have been bad.. really bad, and Christmas hasn’t even started! I have been travelling a lot for work and this normally means total nutrition chaos.

I am sure it has happened to you, it is normal. The moment you step out of your routine, and you don’t get access to the food you normally eat, or a kitchen, it spirals out of control and from one little spoonful of chocolate pudding we end up ordering our own dessert at every meal.

The problem with these binge eating comes mainly when we are following a restrictive diet the rest of the time, a bit of cake is worse for someone on an Atkins or ketogenic diet that for someone that is just overeating but eats a varied diet, it leads to the yoyo effect, and worse than that, it leads to your metabolism becoming “reinforced” against such behaviour. This means that the more times you try and fail a restrictive diet, the less effect it will have, so all that suffering for nothing!!

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Unfortunately, that is life. You get social, you have friends, you have a celebratory meal… that is all well and good, the key is to practice balance!! If you know you are going to have a big dinner, I suggest a really healthy breakfast followed by a light lunch and light afternoon snack, it would be terrible to get to that dinner to hungry and eat enough to give you a tummy ache! Then the next morning, leave the leftovers for someone else and stick to some fat free yogurt and fruits!!

I have never too keen on social media but about a month ago, I opened an Instagram account, I am not 80 years old, I am just a bit too busy for that!! But since I do love photography and food I thought it could be fun (you can follow me if you want for daily foodinspiration and nutritional advice at cook_yourself_slim) Anyway so in Instagram, I found the smoothie bowl fever. All those pieces of art that look sooo pretty and sooo delicious!! I couldn’t just not do anything about it!

The problem I saw with many of them is that they were very calorie and carb heavy, full of “natural” goodness but not good for someone trying to shred some fat (like me) so I looked for the lightest, most nutritional alternative available, and I am LOVING the results.

I have to confess that I will have this breakfast for dinner tonight as part of my post Spanish food overload last week, as a detox.

 

This smoothies are dead easy to make and quick too.

Take note!!

 

Ingredients:

1 pot of fat free Greek yogurt (I use Fage, 170gr and the best protein profile out there)

½ a cup of frozen blueberries

½ cup of frozen strawberries

A pinch of non-caloric sweetener

100 ml of milk (I use soy milk but you take your pick)

½ banana

1 tbsp. sliced toasted almonds.

 

Literally put everything in a blender, blend, and pour in a bowl. Add ½ a banana and some toasted sliced almonds as decoration, some chia seeds for extra protein if you wish and enjoy.

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It tastes like ice cream!!!

And it has around 190 calories, which is pretty impressive for something that tastes sooo good.

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You can change the toppings according to your personal preferences and whatever fruit you have laying around.

 

I am on holidays from tomorrow, so I might leave you alone for a while, but I will come back with a post xmas exercise and detox diet for the new year resolutions.

Stay tuned!!

Slim-Waist-OK Moussaka

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The Greek traditional recipe for Moussaka is not complex but as with many traditional dishes in the Mediterranean cuisine, is very high in fat and quite time consuming. A bit of history of nutrition here that explains why these dishes are generally so highly energetic, they originated in a time of our development when most of our Jobs happened in the fields or taking care of cattle. The energy needs of the peasants and housewives in the old days, were likely to be twice as high as the one of us, sedentary human beings of today.

When you need to find a way to consume 5000 calories a day, a plate of moussaka dripping in oil providing 1000 calories per portion, was actually very good news for our body!! This is the reason why we are programmed, as a race, to rejoice in hyper caloric meals such as a tub of Ben & Jerry’s or a full McDonald meal with French fries and a Sundae. Our caveman brain loves it!! The brain doesn’t know that we don’t have to go to the forest to cut logs for the next 5 hours to prepare for the winter, but to watch Netflix for 6 hours instead while laying on a sofa, and so when we eat such a high amount of nutrients it produces a kick of happy hormones, endorphins, dopamine… Not good!!

We are the only race that eat for emotional reasons and these sneaky hormones might just be the reason for it. I feel sad, I eat chocolate ice cream, I feel better! Magic? No. The problem is that we also the only race with the capacity of abstraction and suffering related to body image issues.

Moussaka and the likes of it, are absolutely delicious scrumptious recipes that we should keep enjoying, however, I prefer to adapt the recipe to make it more fit the needs of our bodies, and I have come up with a low carb, low fat alternative to the traditional one, that tastes really really well and takes significantly less time that the original one.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250 gr. Ground Beef under 5% fat content

500 gr. Canned tomatoes

½ onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled

Fresh or dried thyme/oregano/basil

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

Salt & pepper to taste

4 drops of sweeter

1 Eggplant

40 gr of grated cheese

100 gr of 0% Greek yogurt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To prepare this recipe I use two small over proof non sticky plates, each one serves 2 and I freeze one.

First of all, turn on the over at 150 C degrees and let it warm up. Wash the eggplant and cut it in slices, ½ a cm thick. Cover an oven tray with baking paper and spread the aubergine slices evenly. Sprinkle with salt and leave them “sweat” for 5 to 10 minutes while the over gets to the right temperature.

In the meantime, chop the onion very finely and poach it in 1 tbsp of olive oil at medium heat. Add the 2 cloves of garlic & salt and when they are all transparent and soft, add the canned tomatoes.

By now the oven should be hot, put the aubergine in the middle and let it roast for 10 minutes while you finish the tomato sauce.

Add the spices to the tomato sauce, the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, sweetener and herbs, smashing the tomatoes to pieces with a fork. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. After 10 minutes in the oven, turn the eggplants around and let them cook for another 5 minutes.

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Take the aubergines out of oven but don’t turn it off.

Now, we are not using any white sauce or oil to cover the base of the plate but some of the tomato sauce instead so reserve one or two tablespoons. Then add the ground meat to the remaining tomato sauce and let it cook for 4 to 5 minutes, and correct the salt and pepper.

Once you have the aubergines, the meat with the tomato and the plain tomato, is time to build up the moussaka!

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Put the plain tomato on the base of the plate, then line it up with roasted aubergine. It might look a bit dry, and considerably drier than if you would have fried it in oil, but once in the oven all the juices will mix and they will be soft and melty. Set a layer of meat over the aubergine and then drop 3 or 4 hazel sized dollops of 0% fat Greek yogurt, on it, this substitutes the white sauce and it will add a creamy taste to the dish without any added fat and with lots of protein instead. Then add another layer of aubergine pressing down to make sure everything is nice and tight and if your dish is full, sprinkle with the grated cheese for the gratin.

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If you have a higher dish or a larger one, you might want to have 2 layers of meat and aubergine, in any case is the same!

One is ready, just cook in the oven for 20 minutes and serve with a green salad.

Enjoy!